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Edinburgh Medicine Timeline

Edinburgh Medicine Timeline

Stories and events from Edinburgh Medicine

The Reluctant Surgeon Scientist

I always saw myself as a clinician, having had little exposure to research before being persuaded to take time out of surgical training to undertake a period of full-time research. As so often happens, I found this totally inspiring: the chance to make a difference to the long term outcome of patients through relevant and high quality science is my continuing motivation to combine acute clinical work with research. I had planned to be a breast surgeon, but working in transplantation challenged me, sparking a passion which continues.

Transplantation surgery is technically demanding, and is accompanied by fascinating clinical, ethical and immunological challenges. I was fortunate to be awarded a Clinician Scientist Award from the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003, which provided me with five years of funding to combine research and clinical work, and gave me the time to develop the challenging mouse model of kidney transplantation. As one of a very small number of researchers worldwide who has developed this model, this has allowed me to undertake mechanistic studies into challenges facing renal transplant recipients, such as ischaemia reperfusion injury, acute rejection and chronic allograft damage. I have been privileged to supervise excellent clinical trainees as they undertake a period of full time research, as I did, and our work has been published and presented nationally and internationally. For me, team work is the most important aspect of all the work I do, be it in the clinic or in the lab, and I work with fantastic people, basic and clinical scientists, surgeons, nephrologists and all members of our multi-disciplinary team. Clinically I have a major interest in the development of living donor kidney transplantation, both locally and nationally, particularly in the development of the highly successful national kidney sharing scheme.

I also have a family, my children are now grown and pursuing their own academic interests, not in medicine! I have tried to balance my career with the needs of my family, undertaking my training on a less than full time basis when the children were young, and always trying to continue with my own interests, running and cycling, and more recently, triathlons.

More recently, I have taken on leadership roles locally, as Director of Admissions for Edinburgh medical school and nationally, as the first female President of the British Transplantation Society. This brings new and different challenges, meaning that my life is never boring!

My advice is to do what you want to do professionally, even if it isn’t the most “sensible” option. Follow your dreams, because then you will give of your best. And be a team player. As Henry S. Truman said, “It is amazing what can be achieved if no-one minds who gets the credit”. He also said: “If you can’t convince them confuse them”!

Lorna Marson

Professor of Transplant Surgery
University of Edinburgh


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